The photo was meant as a joke—and a little dig at the white male “Lawrenceville boi.”
However, Lawrenceville School Student Body President Maya Peterson’s Instagram post of her dressed in L.L. Bean boots and a Yale University sweatshirt, casually holding a hockey stick, did not go over so well, BuzzFeed reports.
“You’re the student body president, and you’re mocking and blatantly insulting a large group of the school’s male population,” one student commented on the photo, which boasted hashtags like #romney2016 and #confederate, according to the news site.
“Yes, I am making a mockery of the right-wing, confederate-flag hanging, openly misogynistic Lawrentians,” Maya replied. “If that’s a large portion of the school’s male population, then I think the issue is not with my bringing attention to it in a lighthearted way, but rather why no one has brought attention to it before … ”
Bringing attention to how she viewed the school’s white male population did her no good. Just weeks after the photo was taken, the prestigious boarding school issued a warning, telling her to resign or face disciplinary action.
And that is how Lawrenceville School’s first black female president’s reign ended.
“I understand why I hurt people’s feelings, but I didn’t become president to make sure rich white guys had more representation on campus,” she said. “Let’s be honest—they’re not the ones that feel uncomfortable here.”
According to BuzzFeed, when Maya, who is also an out lesbian, was elected, people balked at her rise to the extent that “there was outcry for Lawrenceville to release the voting data for her presidency, because popular opinion was that she was not actually elected,” a 2014 graduate of the elite school told the news site.
Even as her presidency continued, people started attacking Maya and her character, mailing photos of her reportedly smoking weed, as well as photos of tweets where she allegedly launched racist attacks on a Sikh student. The tweets were later confirmed as fake.
Tensions also rose when Maya and 10 of her black friends posed for her senior photo proudly holding up the “black power” salute. The backlash from that photo is what, apparently, prompted Maya to do the “Lawrenceville boi” photo.
According to BuzzFeed, Maya, who has since graduated, was tired of the malicious opposition she faced, and white students were just as tired of her, never even wanting her for that position. Black Lawrenceville students described the racial dynamics of the $53,000-per-year boarding school to BuzzFeed. Those students said that they had been called things like “Negro amigo” or “n—ger.” They said white male students had called black students on opposing basketball teams “Trayvon,” apparently after the unarmed black 17-year-old who was killed in Florida in February 2012, among other controversies.
The school, which only began admitting black students 50 years ago and female students within the last three decades, is currently about 55 percent white, 21 percent Asian, and 16 percent black and Hispanic, BuzzFeed notes.
Read more at BuzzFeed.